Monday, July 2, 2012

Here are a few stories from the team about the past two weeks


       Last week was Kansas kids camp.  During this week, we were not counselors, rather we were in charge of games, skits, keeping the tally of points, serving food for the tiny young children who couldn’t reach the food themselves, and even room checkers. While doing these various tasks I felt as if I was unnecessary, that what I was doing was insignificant in the kingdom of God.  Looking back now, I have realized that sometimes the Lord calls us to do tasks that we don’t think we are not prepared for and that we don’t want to do. But no matter how small and insignificant the task may seem, there is always significance in the work the Lord calls us to do. 

       During the Iowa Jr. High camp I had a great group of men.  There were 9 of them and I had a co-counselor.  Many of the men in the cabin were quite unique but I was able to connect through some mind games, such as how many bears like to dance to music? (the answer is 5 because it is the number of words after bears).  The campers soon became obsessive over the games but they did really love me because of them.   That led us as a cabin to a really cool night.  Thursday night in Iowa is considered Holy night.  This particular night all the campers were given mirrors to write different things that keep them from their hopes and dreams.  When they look at the mirror many of them wrote that they were worthless.  Then we went for a walk as a cabin down to crosses along the river and there they were given the gospel message.  Then the counselors were able to wipe the mirrors clean if the students wanted them clean.  From there the campers were challenged to spend one on one time with the counselors and share with them where their relationship is with God.   I had the unique opportunity during those conversations to really be a mentor and actually lead 3 campers to Christ.  This may one of the first times I have ever led someone to Christ so I was on cloud nine and then one of those campers has actually been emailing me for more insight on who God is, which really makes my day every time I get a cool email like that.  Then we got back to the room and a few of the campers had glow sticks which they proceeded to break open and throw glow all around the room.  I don’t know if I have ever seen a cooler room in my life.  We compared the brilliance of the night sky to our room and the room definitely won.  We ended up getting in trouble for being too loud, but it was still very cool!!  A prayer request for our team is that the next two weeks we are not counselors and are simply in charge of games and doing a few skits so pray for servant hearts and creativity of brains.  

            The past two weeks for me have been greatly humbling and influential. During the Junior High Iowa-Minnesota camp, two students from the Senior High week let me know of the impact I had the week before. To realize the impact of my actions was refreshing, and was quite encouraging. Also during that week, God taught me some of my weaknesses in regard to interacting with others. I struggle with connecting with people who are opposite of me in personality. I was stuck with a cabin full of these students, and it was quite challenging to find a connection there. While driving to the next camp in McPherson, KS, I was again reminded of the beauty of God’s creation. Being awake alone looking out on the surroundings was refreshing, and reminded me that everything on this earth belongs to Him, which can be easy to forget at times. The realization again that everything I do is to the glory of God has encouraged me for the next four weeks. I am pumped to see what God has in store for us.

    The past two weeks have taught me how important it is to have one-on-one conversations.  During Iowa Jr. High camp, I had a cabin of fourteen pre-teen girls.  They were a lot of fun, loved to stay up late, and some of them had the tendency to attract drama.  It was hard to get to know all of the girls.  I had a co-counselor, Ali, who was amazing.   But even with her, I struggled to find opportunities to talk to the girls.
     The way that  I finally started to get to know them was not through cabin times, but through the one on one conversations.  A couple times I made a date with the girls during free time.  One of these dates really led to some intense conversation.  At first, this girl just seemed to be a little bit different and really shy.  But as I spent time with her, talking about anything and everything, but mostly Anime.  This led to conversations about her friends, her home life, and her more of what she likes to do.  From there, I really learned what she was struggling with and what kind of help she needed.  
     Another time, I was laying down to take down to take a nap along with a few of my girls.  One of them wanted to go up to the snack shack, but wanted someone to go with her.  None of the other girls who were taking a nap would go. While I really wanted to just fall asleep, I knew that the Spirit wanted me to go with her, and that whatever happened would be awesome.  So I went.  We got up to the snack shack, and while we were in a room full of people, we had an awesome private conversation.  I got to hear her story and what she struggles with, along with share some of my own story and what I struggle with as well.  That moment set the tone for the rest of the week, and she was much more transparent with the group and with me individually.
     During kids camp it was harder to find time to talk with the campers, especially since we were not counselors.  But one day at lunch, I was sitting with a group of the girls on my team, and they started asking me some really tough questions.  Why did God create the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil if He knew that it would bring sin into the world?  Was Hitler a Christian?  What's the difference between Christians and Jews?  It was amazing to talk with these girls and share what I know, and sometimes say, "I don't know."   This little conversation showed me how much God can do even if I'm not a counselor.

A few prayer requests:
The next two weeks we are not counselors. Pray that God would give us servants' hearts to go out of our way to do whatever needs to be done.  
Some of the campers that we have already been with are keeping in contact with us.  Pray that these relationships continue to develop and that God works in powerful ways even though camp is over.
Pray that we would continue to be united as a team, that God would draw us closer together and use us to sharpen and encourage one another.  
Rachel woke up Sunday morning feeling sick.  Today (Monday) she feels even worse.  Pray that God would provide time to rest so she can get over the sickness.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Cedar Springs Senior High

We had heard how awesome this camp was going to be.  We waited in anticipation for Tuesday morning when we would start our first Epic Game.  We played Pull Apart. For those of you who don’t know what that’s all about… one group of people holds on as tight as they can to each other and another group tries to pull them apart.  We all have bruises from that.  The next day was a cross between dodgeball and Ultimate Frisbee.  Talk about intense.  Thursday was Beast Ball: two teams fighting to get the balls into their trash cans, while in a mud pit, which meant tackling and pushing and throwing mud… anything to win!  I looked like I was wearing a shirt made of mud.  Friday’s game was trying to push the other team’s ball off of a soapy tarp.  We weren’t muddy this time… just really wet and soapy, and still a little scratched up.

During the afternoons, we would ride tubes down the river, play Ultimate Frisbee, and play cards.  It was a ton of fun hanging out with the teens.
Then, in the evening, we would have more crazy activities.  Bowling… Capture the Flag… Dancing… Commando.  What is Commando?  Well, the fun of Commando is that the counselors get to make the campers do anything as they search for a truck in the woods.   Like eat grass, buy us candy, spit in each other’s mouths, baptize each other in the river, eat an Oreo out of a shoe, and lick the armpits of everyone else in the group.  But I’ll spare you the worst of the details. 

On a more serious note, God was transforming lives.  The theme for the week was Transparent.  Every morning and every night, we were encouraged to be transparent with each other.  Campers had the opportunity to share what they struggled with, sin they couldn’t let go of, and dreams they have that are hindered.  All four of us had some amazing conversations and had some campers open up. 

One thing I learned was how little I have to do for God to work.  It’s not me at all that changes these kids’ lives.  My twelve girls were from three different youth groups, so being transparent with the whole group was difficult.  On confession night, I felt like God wanted me to split up the group into their youth groups.  It ended up being more amazing than I could have hoped.  I didn’t get to hear everything they shared.  But they shared.  They were transparent.  They got to know each other better.  They supported each other.  Prayed for each other.  I was blown away.  I walked back to my cabin afterwards, alone, looking up at the stars, praising God for how He works in ways so much greater than me. 

Continue to pray for us that God would renew our energy for another week of camp.  We stay in Cedar Springs for a week of Junior High camp.  We are excited to see God work in other amazing ways.  

Check out some of the pictures!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Building a Youth Camp

We had two weeks at IWU before we headed out for camps.  Those two weeks were hard, but amazing.  The first week was training.  Mark Atkinson was with us to share much of what he knows about camp.  It was an awesome time to talk about some of what is in store for us this summer.  During these 4 or 5 days, we got to know the other teams a little bit, just like we did last year.

But this year, we got to know the other teams so much better because of the second week.  We would get coffee together in the morning, eat PB&J for lunch together, go out to dinner together, and hang out all evening together.  The times that best helped me get to know the teams were each morning when the CIA teams would get together to pray for each other.  In the evening we would do the same as well.  To hear specific prayer requests, praises, and concerns for the summer gave me ways that I could better pray for and encourage each member.

Because one of the bands was at Wesleyan General Conference during the week, and camps hadn't started yet, we got to help Fairmount Camp get ready for their camps.  If ever we were going to learn about doing the thankless jobs, it would be during this service project.  We washed dishes, painted trashcans, painted fire hydrants, painted bathrooms, made beds, cleaned out deep freezers and fryers, cut down branches, weed-wacked, put in insulation, put up dry wall, and found a gas line. While each of those sometimes seemed meaningless, we knew we were making it possible for teens to meet Jesus in the weeks following.  We ended each day exhausted and ready for a relaxing night.  I was so proud of Team Shine.  Even when they were away from the rest of the workers, working on a less-than-exciting job, Samuel, Leslie, and Dayne never complained or quit working. They continued to do their best to serve the camp.  This week of service with my team makes me so excited to serve with them for the next seven weeks of camp.  

Friday, June 1, 2012

Hey there!
It's Friday, and we just finished a week of training... which generally consisted of playing card games, brain teasers, practicing skits, and late night trips to Circle K for Polar Pops.  But in all seriousness, it's been a wonderful week of preparing for this summer of ministry. So much prayer has gone into this summer.  Prayer for our team, the campers, the camp directors, other teams, our supervisors, and traveling.  We want you to join us in praying for us this summer as we travel across the country.

Our speaker for the week did a great job at helping us think about tough situations we might encounter this summer and helping us get to know each other better. We've also been able to spend a lot of time with the other teams: Catalyst and Amplify and the Bands: EnGedi, Veritas, and Revolution.

Next week, we are a part of a service project at Fairmount Wesleyan Camp, which is pretty close to campus.

Here's the list of the other camps we'll be going to the rest of the summer.
June 10-16 Iowa Minnesota Teen Camp in Floyd, Iowa
June 18-23 Iowa Minnesota Junior High Camp in Floyd, Iowa
June 24-28 Kansas Kid's Camp in McFerson, Kansas
July 2-7 Camp Wildwoon in Clay City, Indiana
July 8-13 Indiana South Youth Camp in Orleans, Indiana
July 15-20 Shenandoah Youth Camp at Victory Mountain Camp in Sophia, North Carolina
July 22-28 Central New York Youth Camp in Beaver Dams, New York

We're looking forward to sharing stories with you throughout the summer about how God is doing some awesome things.

And a message from Dayne...
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